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The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Tuesday, March 13

Housing Authority and the City Council- Who is in charge?

We should know tomorrow.

Word on the street is Mayor Scott Johnson will be coming out with the legal opinion he asked the Assistant City Attorney Tony Izzo to come up with regarding what authority the City Council has over the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority — in particular, the salaries therein.

The 1956 law to create the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority starts, in part, with:
"A municipal housing authority, to be known as the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority, is hereby created and established."

Then, when you go to the Municipal Housing Authority articles of the NYS Laws (actually it is under PBG- public housing- Article 3- Municipal Housing Authorities) section 32, it states:

"An authority shall select from among its members a vice-chairman, and it may employ, subject to the provisions of the civil service law applicable to the municipality in which it is established, a general manager, a secretary, technical experts and such other officers, agents and employees as it may require, and determine their qualifications, duties and, subject to the approval of the local legislative body, fix their compensation."

I went ahead and put the important part in bold/italics (lest ye should miss it). The issue is whether the City Council (local legislative body) has any authority over the Housing Authority's salaries (such as Director Ed Spychalski's $152k a year salary with bonus included).

The law seems to indicate it does but Mayor Johnson said "It is not a black-and-white issue. There are very much shades of gray."

We reported last week that Johnson was waiting on the opinion and I guess the wait is over. Word is it will be released tomorrow. We'll keep you posted.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, and the Authority's 2009 By-laws also recognize and wed it to the State law you reference.

Further, case law and existing opinion seem to affirm all this. See Kelly v. Cohoes Housing Authority, Nolan v. New York City Housing Authority.

There seem to be no amendments or other case law that would not require the Authority to gain approval of the City Council.

The question, if this is correct, is why did the Authority not comply with the statute and why was the Council unaware of the requirement?

March 13, 2012 at 3:05 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Review Section 30 of the Minicicpal Housing Law. It contradict Section 32 on some issues. That's government for you.

March 13, 2012 at 7:19 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it always Tony Izzo? Don't we have a City Attorney...what gives.

Don't get me wrong, Mr. Izzo does a great job but where is the main guy?

Never hear from him on anything.

March 13, 2012 at 8:55 PM 

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